July 30, 2017 – Canada Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has defended the move to introduce a lottery system for the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program.
Hussen says the new system is fair, despite reports of less than 1,000 applications being received against a target of 10,000.
Now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is planning a second draw in the face of harsh criticism, with many calls for a return to the only first-come, first-served system.
“It’s a very fair system,” Hussen said of the new lottery. “The previous system favoured those who lived closer to the centre or those who were able to pay a lot of money and hire an agent to basically stay in line for hours. This system is random, so it treats everyone fairly.”
Some 95,000 families put their names forward for the draw at the start of 2017, with 10,000 names drawn at random and invited to apply.
But figures quoted by an IRCC representative suggested only 700 applications have been submitted so far, with some of them incomplete.
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“Once we determine how many incomplete applications were received, the department will then notify the required number of additional sponsors using the original list and same randomized process that was taken to identify the first 10,000 persons invited to submit an application,” IRCC spokeswoman Nancy Caron told the National Observer.
“We expect this process to occur before the end of 2017.”
The IRCC changed the system for 2017 in an attempt to make it fairer. Previously, an application window would open in January and the first 10,000 received would be processed. This led to couriers lining up at processing centres and effectively meant all applicants required the help of a lawyer.
The first criticism of the IRCC change was that it was not announced until December 2016. Many families had already gone to the time and expense of preparing applications in anticipation of the old system.
Then there was a feeling the method for entering the lottery did not go into enough detail. There are strict qualification requirements for the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program, including on income of the sponsor and on health of the parent or grandparent. These requirements were not listed on the basic form for entering the lottery. It seems families entered without realising they would not be eligible.
‘Adjustments for Next Year’
The IRCC’s Caron admitted the process may have to be tweaked.
“We are continuing to monitor results and will make any necessary adjustments for next year,” she told the Observer.
“The previous system resulted in a backlog of applications which progressively got bigger year after year given the popularity of the program. We felt that it was unacceptable for people to wait many years to be reunited with their parents or grandparents. The fact is that caps are needed to prevent unmanageable backlogs and long processing times.
“With the new process, we are giving everyone the same opportunity to apply in the program. Therefore, the new process is fairer and more transparent for everyone. With the new process, a person can wait to see if they are invited to apply before spending time and money to prepare and submit their sponsorship application.”
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